The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Sunday May 26th

Mary Quant, fashion icon of the 1960s, has died

<p>(Photo courtesy of  <a href="" target="">WikiCommons</a> / Jac. de Nijs / Anefo December 16, 1966)</p>

(Photo courtesy of  WikiCommons / Jac. de Nijs / Anefo December 16, 1966)

By Chiara Piacentini
Staff Writer

The world has just lost one of the most influential fashion icons of — what the British termed — the Swinging Sixties. Mary Quant passed away quietly at her home in Surrey, UK on April 13, according to a statement from her family. She was 96.

Quant was known for popularizing the miniskirt. The name was said to have been inspired by the Mini Cooper, her favorite car. 

From a young age, Quant knew she wanted to enter the fashion industry, but when she tried to enroll in a fashion class, her parents wouldn’t let her. So she attended Goldsmiths, where she earned a degree in art education at the age of 19 and also met her husband, Alexander Plunket-Greene, who would later help her make a name for herself. 

Two years later, in 1955, she bought a building in London with her husband and a friend of theirs who was a photographer. There, Quant opened up her Bazaar boutique on the first floor. 

What started out as a small shop selling short dresses and jewelry became a global franchise that sold a wide array of merchandise ranging from skinny sweaters to colorful tights to makeup; in other words, her brand revolutionized the fashion industry. 

It was Quant’s self-starter mentality that got her business off the ground running. With only a few sewing classes under her belt and some late nights in her room creating short dresses before they hit the display window, her clothes were immediately sold out. She was a fast learner, too, as her business only went “onward and upward,” said The Museum at FIT’s director Valerie Steele. Her husband’s knowledge of marketing and entrepreneurship contributed to her long-term success as well. 

Fashion writers and historians also believe her boutique was so profitable because her clothing designs reflected the young generation’s care-free spirit amid a conservative time period. The clothes gave off a feeling of freedom and comfort for women with short hemlines that ran several inches above the knee. Her stores also had a relaxed quality to them with jazz music playing in the background while the customers shopped. 

“She revolutionized fashion and was a brilliant female entrepreneur. The 1960s would never have been the same without her,” said renowned ‘60s British model Twiggy Lawson, on Instagram.  

And it was in part thanks to Lawson for Quant’s success. Her slim body shape and long legs were a perfect match for Quant’s outfits, including the famed mini-skirt. 

Although some argue that Quant along with French designer André Courrèges are responsible for inventing the mini-skirt, Quant denied any credit for this in Nerri Karra’s 2021 book, Fashion-Entrepreneurship.

“It wasn’t me or Courrèges who invented the mini-skirt anyway,” Quant said. “It was the girls in the street who did it.”


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